The final leg of my “Great American Road Trip” began with me waking up in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I stayed at The Lodge at Santa Fe which was beautiful and I highly recognized. I didn’t spend much time in Santa Fe, I had to make it to the Flagstaff area by the end of the day and also planned on visiting Coronado State Monument and Petroglyph National Monument on my way there.
Before leaving Santa Fe I got breakfast at the Tune Up Cafe before hitting the road to Coronado State Monument which is an archaeological site where you can see murals that were uncovered in a Kiva there as well as climb down into a reconstructed Kiva with a museum tour guide.
After the Coronado State Monument I went to Petroglyph National Monument which was incredible! I recommend giving yourself at least half a day to do this place, I only had about 2 hours so I went for one of the shorter hikes through Boca Negra Canyon where you can see 100 petroglyphs. You can also opt in for the Rinconada Canyon (2.2 miles, 2 hours) or Piedras Maracas Canyon (1.5 miles, 1.5 hours.) Visit the Visitors Center for maps and information on the best trails for you!
After almost three weeks on the road, I spent my first night in my car, I was tired and wanted to sleep! So i checked to make sure it was legal to sleep in my car at a rest stop in Arizona and did just that! While I wouldn’t choose to sleep in my car on a regular basis, I made myself comfy and fell asleep!
The next morning I went to Walnut Canyon National Monument in Flagstaff, Arizona which was easily one of my favorite stops of the entire trip. Step 1 for visiting this park? BRING WATER! It gets hot in the canyon hiking the Island Trail can be difficult if you are not used to the 7,000 ft elevation. while the trail is only 1 mile long, it descends into the canyon via 185 vertical feet and returns the same way.
The trail is absolutely incredible, the canyon is beautiful and the added archaeological site made it one of the coolest places I have ever visited. Dating back 700 years, the cave dwellings still intact in the side of the canyon are breathtaking. Add in the fact that I am currently pursuing a degree in Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology and you can see why I was especially excited to explore this National Monument.
After spending a couple of hours at Walnut Canyon I got in my car to head south to Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde, Arizona. This stop just added to my general nerdy happiness of the day.
My final stop for the day and for the next few days was Phoenix, Arizona where I was meeting my Grandma for baseball Spring Training! Now since I have clear judgement and a sound mind, I am a diehard Dodger fan while my Grandma is crazy and roots for the Angels. So we attended the Dodger/Angel game along with an Angel/A’s game and a Dodger/White Sox game. (I would like to point out that the Dodgers beat the Angels that night.)
Also, you may be able to spot Mike Scioscia behind us in the second picture!
One of the nights we were in Phoenix we had one of the best meals I’ve had in my short 22 years of life. We went to a restaurant called Giuseppe’s on 28th and oh man I will be returning whenever I am in Phoenix! I highly recommend this restaurant, you will not be sorry. (Unfortunately, it was a little dark so I couldn’t get any good pictures of my meal.)
The final stop of my road trip before heading home was Grand Canyon National Park. Having only seen the Grand Canyon through my plane window, I was pretty excited to finally see the Natural Wonder of the World in person. I arrived pretty late that night and once again slept in my car. The higher elevation made it a little chilly compared to my night in my car a few days before but I was exhausted and went to sleep right away! I set my alarm for 5am the next morning so I could get up early and see the Grand Canyon for the first time as the sun came up.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to be so moved by the Grand Canyon. My first glimpse was dark but I got to watch this beautiful natural wonder reveal itself as the sun slowly came up that morning. I sat and stared at the same spot of the Canyon for an hour before moving on the hike along the Rim Trail.
Throughout the day I kept expecting to get tired of looking but when it came time to head home I had to reluctantly pull myself away from one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I can’t wait to return, this time for a longer stay!
Quick tip if you’re planning on visiting Grand Canyon National Park: Arrive early in the morning or late at night! Traffic entering the park was backed up for miles when I was leaving around noon. Also (this goes for most National Parks I visited) bring a debit/credit card! A lot of them didn’t take cash unless it was exact change.
And then, I hopped in the car and drove the last 500 miles of my 6,500 mile adventure. I made it home in time to stop by my Dad’s house and eat a home cooked meal that wasn’t handed to me through my drivers-side window and while I absolutely loved my trip and could’ve kept going longer, it felt good to be home.